British Success in India :- The entire process of expansion and consolidation of the British power in India took almost a century. In these hundred odd years the English used many diplomatic and military tactics, apart from other mechanisms, to finally emerge as the rulers of India. Both war and administrative policies were used by the English to impose their power over various kingdoms and finally to consolidate their own rule over the entire India. The British were not averse to using unscrupulous tactics to exploit a situation or a regional ruler to get their own way. The causational forces and factors for the success of the British are as follows.
Causes of British Success in India
Superior Arms, Military and Strategy
The firearms used by the English, which included muskets and cannons, were better than the Indian arms both in speed of firing and in range. On realising this, many Indian rulers imported European arms and employed European officers to train their troops but unfortunately the Indian military officers and the ranks could never match the English officers and English armies; in the absence of originality, the military officers and armies of Indian rulers became mere imitators.
Better Military Discipline and Regular Salary
A regular system of payment of salaries and a strict regime of discipline were the means by which the English Company ensured that the officers and the troops were loyal. On their part, most of the Indian rulers did not have enough money to pay salaries regularly. The Marathas at times diverted their military campaigns to collect revenue so as to pay their troops. Also, the Indian rulers were dependent on personal
retinues or a rabble of mercenary elements who were not amenable to discipline and could turn rebellious or join the opponents when the going was not good.
Civil Discipline and Fair Selection System
The Company officers and troops were given charge on the basis of their reliability and skill and not on hereditary or caste and clan ties. They themselves were subject to strict discipline and were aware of the objectives of their campaigns. In contrast, the Indian administrators and military officers were appointed on the basis of caste and personal relations, often disregarding merit and ability. As a result, their competence was doubtful and they often tended to be rebellious and disloyal in order to pursue their own interests.
Brilliant Leadership and Support of Second Line Leaders
Clive, Warren Hastings, Elphinstone, Munro, Marquess of Dalhousie, etc., displayed rare qualities of leadership. The English also had the advantage of a long list of secondary leaders like Sir Eyre Coote, Lord Lake and Arthur Wellesley who fought not for the leader but for the cause and the glory of their country. The Indian side too had brilliant leaders like Haidar Ali, Tipu Sultan, Chin Kulich Khan, Madhu Rao
Sindhia, and Yashwant Rao Holkar, but they often lacked a team of second line trained personnel. Moreover, the Indian leaders were as much fighting against one another as against the British. The spirit of fighting for a united cause was not their motivation. Thus they often supported the British against neighbouring rulers. The consciousness of ‘India’ was lacking.
Strong Financial Backup
The income of the Company was adequate enough to pay its shareholders handsome dividends as also to finance the English wars in India. Furthermore, England was earning fabulous profits from its trade with the rest of the world. This vast amount of resources in money, materials and men was available to the British in times of need, thanks to their superiority in sea power.
An economically thriving British people believing in material advancement and proud of their national glory faced the ‘weak, divided-amongst-themselves Indians’ bereft of a sense of unified political nationalism. The lack of materialistic vision among Indians was also a reason for the success of the English Company.